On Thursday, March 17, members of the MIT community and researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy convened for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Day, an event dedicated to the future of low-carbon energy.
DOE leaders and MIT faculty discussed current research to accelerate scientific breakthroughs in clean energy fields.
The event, hosted by the MIT Energy Initiative, also featured an MIT student-hosted panel with Institute alumni who currently work at the DOE to spark current students‘ interest in careers in energy policy and research.
MITEI Director Robert Armstrong opened the conference with a call “To come together to accelerate progress in transforming the world’s energy systems.” He noted the catalytic effect of last December’s United Nations climate negotiations and the resulting Paris Climate Agreement, saying we must “Figure out ways to enhance the excellent cooperation already under way” on climate and energy.
David Danielson PhD ‘07, DOE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, co-founded the MIT Energy Club while at MIT. His keynote talk centered on advancements in energy research at DOE and the creation of what he called a “Clean energy innovation ecosystem” in the U.S. He touched on new research in solar, geothermal, and hydropower technology, as well as the future of 3-D printed cars, all areas in which DOE is involved.
Moderators Linda Cheung, a Sloan MBA candidate, and Michael Birk, a graduate student in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society and Statoil-MIT Energy Fellow, asked the panelists to share their stories of how they came to be interested in energy research and policy, and how they turned their passion into exciting careers.
We need to stop the cycle, he said, of “Clean energy products [being] inventedhere, but made elsewhere.” Patrick Phelan, emerging technologies program manager at the Building Technologies Office, talked about applications for decision science – specifically, understanding why people buy energy efficient technology for buildings – and studies how to stimulate certain behaviors.